Should You Double Cleanse Before You Start Your Skincare Routine?

Plus, what order you should apply each product in your routine.

Should You Double Cleanse Before You Start Your Skincare Routine?

I am skincare obsessed. After dealing with acne in my post-teenage years, I knew I had to get serious about a routine and stick to it. Though I cleanse twice a day — morning and night — I always wonder if I should cleanse differently when it comes to washing the day off of my face. I wear a tinted CC cream every day for coverage and sun protection (it has SPF 50), and sometimes it just doesn’t feel like washing my face once is enough to get the makeup off. Should I double cleanse before I start my skincare routine? 

To find out, spoke with dermatologist, Dr. Shasa Hu, MD, FAAD, and co-founder of BIA Life to answer all of your burning skincare questions. You’ve probably heard of serums, moisturizers, and toners, but when should you use them and what order should you apply them? Here’s everything you need to know about finding and sticking to a skincare routine that works for you, so you can manage any problem areas you have and find solutions to correct them.

Dr. Hu recommends double cleansing for everyone. She suggests starting with a face oil to gently remove makeup, sunscreen, and dirt. “Contrary to popular belief,” she says, “Oil cleansers don’t clog your pores because ‘like attracts like.’” Dr. Hu notes that an effective oil cleanser works to melt away layers of product and excess oil buildup without exfoliation (which should only be done once a week).  

After you’ve stripped away makeup and dirt with an oil cleanser, Dr. Hu suggests to follow up with a gentle, water-based, ph-balanced cleanser that can target your specific skin care needs. This can be anything from a product that brightens, helps clean out pores, or reduces acne. “This double cleansing technique ensures that you ‘detox’ your skin at the end of the day, and that your evening routine starts on a fresh canvas,” she says. 

The term “triple cleansing” has made its way onto beauty blogs lately, but Dr. Hu says this should only be done by people who either wear a lot of face makeup during the day, or have naturally oily or blemish-prone skin. “Triple cleansing can over strip the natural oils from our skin, and can lead to rebound excessive sebum production, so be careful with triple cleansing, or save triple cleansing for special days where you are wearing multiple layers of makeup,” says Dr. Hu.

Dr. Hu notes that you should only double or triple cleanse at night to remove the buildup from the day. In the morning, a single cleanse should suffice to prep your skin for the day ahead.

What Order Should I Apply Products In?

For most people looking to get into a skincare routine, Dr. Hu says there’s a particular order that should be followed. Cleanse (single, double, or triple), apply a serum, eye cream, anti-aging cream, and finally, moisturizer. If it’s the morning, follow your moisturizer with sunscreen and makeup. Dr. Hu says one notable exception for this order is if you’re adding a prescription into the routine. “If a person has any prescription creams, the prescription usually is applied right after cleanser, however, best to discuss the correct order with your dermatologist if you have any prescription medications,” says Dr. Hu.

Dr. Hu strongly believes in having both a morning and nighttime skincare routine. “Most of the clinical studies are based on twice-a-day application to achieve the reported results (except for retinol or retinoids: application is only in the evening to avoid deactivation by sunlight),” she says. “The best skin results are achieved when you are consistent with your routine, and patient enough to stay on the routine for at least 8-12 weeks.”

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